Biden’s 2023 Budget: A Budget of Values

Reed Cleland, Staff Writer

Thus far in his still-young presidency, President Joe Biden has been the object of widespread blame for high gas prices, soaring inflation and supply chain bottlenecks. He may never receive the political credit due to him for his withdrawal from Afghanistan, minimum wage increase for federal workers and contractors and COVID-19 stimulus relief checks. 

Biden’s 2023 budget ought to be added to this list. After years of austerity budgets from President Donald Trump’s administration involving massive tax gifts to billionaires and corporate investors while slashing social safety net funding, the Biden 2023 budget is an encouraging breath of fresh air for upstate New York and other economically-laggard regions of the country.

The most notable component in the 2023 proposed budget is a billionaire minimum tax threshold of 20%. In September 2021, the Office of Management and Budget released a report that the average effective billionaire tax rate in the United States was 8.2%, far lower than what low-income workers pay on their salaries. For those unfamiliar with the economic terminology, most billionaire wealth is generated not through salaries, which are often lower than those in the working class, but through their investments in stocks. Billionaire wealth increased by $1.2 trillion throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, according to Forbes magazine. According to the budget proposal, Biden’s billionaire tax would close these gaps in tax receipts by establishing a 20% minimum threshold for households worth more than $100 million, reaching approximately 0.01% of taxpayers. 

In addition to the billionaire tax, Biden’s proposal would increase the corporate tax rate from the current level of 20% established under the Trump Administration to 28%. Between both the billionaire tax and higher corporate taxes, the White House has projected that the national deficit would decrease by $1.3 trillion, a feat that would be the largest decline in American history. Increasing taxes on billionaires and corporations is a gesture toward smart politics and fiscal responsibility. Republican lawmakers have historically been the party to hog the issue of fiscal responsibility, but the truth is that the national debt and deficit have both skyrocketed under modern Republican presidents in the 1980s and 2000s, far more than they have increased under Democrats. That is the simple logic of slashing federal revenues while increasing spending on the military beyond imagination. As a result of these disastrous and irresponsible policies, millennials and Generations X and Z have inherited a seemingly irreversible national debt of $30 trillion, a development that will hurt our pockets tremendously.

If there are critiques to be had about Biden’s budget, increased military spending would be one of them. The proposal includes an unprecedented $8 trillion ask, a request beyond anything that Presidents Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush or Trump ever sought. The Biden Administration has justified this increase to reflect its desire to continue aiding Ukraine in its war with Russia. Federal spending ought to be focused here at home so that more Americans can invest in education for their children, purchase a home or expand their small businesses. While Biden’s approach toward Russia has thus far been one of a steady hand and willingness to impose the toughest sanctions imaginable on Russian oligarchs, the national defense increase is simply an unnecessary submission to the whims of a drunken military industrial complex and a bolstering of American imperialist tendencies. 

While there should and will be extensive negotiations and pressure from influential labor-oriented actors such as Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Biden’s 2023 budget is mostly one of sound fiscal and political priorities. It puts to bed any misconceptions that the Democratic Party is the party of lawlessness and civil disorder with an increase in funding for law enforcement agencies. Meaningful criminal justice reform is not denoted by the slogan “defund the police” but rather by adjusting the allocation of resources to more appropriately enforce civil order. The budget also prioritizes the needs of veterans, children in failing schools and economically-depressed regions, women’s health services and those affected by the opioid epidemic and climate crisis. In short, Biden’s budget has embraced a broad and bipartisan understanding of national priorities: Domestic and national security, narrowing the wealth gap between rich and poor and taking environmental degradation seriously. One can only hope that certain wolves-in-sheeps’ clothing such as Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema will not shred it to pieces as they have done to most of Biden’s previous domestic initiatives.

For a comprehensive overview of Biden’s proposed budget, it is available for public viewing at the White House website.